Updated: July 8, 2020 by Stan Cobb
(Next Update: July 15, 2020)
Saltwater – Incredible catches are occurring daily inside the bay. Cobia continue to be, quite possibly, the most popular fish.
Some extremely large fish have been caught over the last few days. The sight casters are doing very well. We're not getting as many reports from those chumming, but this remains a productive method for hooking up with the Cobes. Most of the chumming takes place in shallower water along bars, flats, and shoals.
Large catches of Red Drum also continue to occur in the bay. It's always exciting to encounter these massive schools where throwing just about anything will draw a strike. Drum over 50 inches are not uncommon right now.
The Spadefish are increasing in numbers in the lower bay with the CBBT finally becoming more reliable for the large numbers and size. Fresh clam should be used for the best results. Some prefer to use clam chum to draw in the Spades.
Better catches of Flounder are occurring from the CBBT area now. The artificial reefs throughout the bay are good structures to target. They have much less current than the bridge tunnel, making presentations easier to repeat in the same productive sweet spots. This is especially true for those jigging vertically. 1 1/2- 2 ounce jigs are usually good. Tip them with fresh strip bait, or Berkley Gulp! baits.
There have been some sizable Sheepshead caught from the bridge tunnel in the last week as well.
Spot and Croaker catches inside the Rappahannock have been steady. Bloodworms are excellent for the Spot, but sometimes shrimp can be better for the Croaker.
Catches of Speckled Trout have been coming from the Rappahannock River mouth area along with the Piankatank River. There have also been some keepers of Trout caught from Lynnhaven Inlet, but the Puppy Drum catches have been more numerous from Lynnhaven.
Good catches of Spanish Mackerel are happening throughout the bay now. Trolling for the Mackerel with Drone and Clark spoons is a welcome endeavor on these hot days and can be quite fast paced when multiple lines are set out.
Excellent catches of Yellowfin Tuna are still occurring for the charters out of Virginia Beach and Nags Head/Hatteras. Besides the Yellowfin, charters are returning with Mahi, Wahoo, and Big Eye Tuna.
Catches of Blue Marlin, White Marlin, and Sailfish have been increasing as well.
Surf and pier anglers are scoring Spanish, Sea Mullet, Bluefish, and Puppy Drum. Deep drop action out of Virginia Beach is great for Tilefish and Seabass.
Freshwater – Kerr Reservoir has returned to normal levels with the current elevation at 301 feet. Bass are being caught from all over the lake—from the upper sections, which are usually more stained, to the lower, clearer water sections. The mid sections are a good bet as there is a balance of stained and clear water.
Summer patterns usually call for covering lots of water quickly with a crankbait, or sometimes a swimbait, then pinpointing the productive areas with Texas rigs, or finesse presentations like drop shots.
Current areas that are found around bridges and other structures usually produce Bass throughout the summer. Some prefer to venture up the rivers, seeking a stronger current and visible cover. This can be hazardous, however, as shallow areas are often prevalent when streams enter a larger body of water.
Drifting for Catfish has become quite popular at Kerr and many other lakes, such as Gaston, where some very large Cats have been caught lately.
A good tactic for summertime Crappie is to anchor near channels at night and drop lights to attract baitfish, which draw in the Crappie.
Good limits of Bass are coming from the evening tournaments at Anna where it usually takes 16 lbs. or better to win.
The James and Chickahominy Rivers are sharing similar results. Short tournaments usually require quick decisions and familiarity with the area to pull out a win. Crankbaits are popular on these tidal waters as they cover water quickly and effectively. Of course, topwater lures are often all that are needed. Weedless grass frogs are at the top of the lists.
This is also the time of year when many prefer to target the Blue Cats on the tidal rivers. Fresh, live eels and fresh cut Shad are the two baits needed most.
The upper James has dropped to 4.48' at the Westham gauge. Once the levels drop below 5 feet, navigation can become tricky. Jet boats are used by river rats targeting Smallmouth, as they can navigate in very shallow water, sometimes only inches deep. Others prefer canoes, kayaks, and small john boats to access ideal areas. These are also great for the smaller, horsepower restricted lakes that are very healthy fisheries. Some are electric motor only, but should not be overlooked. With ponds and lakes in full vegetation, grass frogs can be hard to beat as they can be cast into heavy cover to draw strikes. But they also work in open water.